Demonic Movie Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Released by Icon Home Entertainment
Directed by Will Canon
Written by Max La Bella and Will Canon
2015, 83 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 7th September 2015
Maria Bello as Dr. Elizabeth Klein
Frank Grillo as Detective Mark Lewis
Cody Horn as Michelle
Dustin Milligan as John
Megan Park as Jules
Scott Mechlowicz as Bryan
A nerve-shredding nightmare is on the cards for a group of kids performing an occult ritual on the site of a mass murder. It’s not as if there haven’t been countless cautionary tales in the past, but you can’t keep a bunch of determined ghost hunters from meeting their grisly fates, no matter how hard you try.
For all the marketing materials proclaiming this as James Wan’s Demonic, the Insidious director merely takes the producer’s role in this amalgamated haunted house tale, which is actually directed by Will Canon.
Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy) takes the lead as Detective Lewis, called to an incident at an old murder site. As he explores the house, he finds it littered with dead bodies and a lone survivor, John (Dustin Milligan). John recounts the story of the group’s ghost hunting project and how one member of the group went mad and killed everyone, while Lewis tries to verify his story by piecing together evidence in the house and the footage from the many cameras that were used to record any paranormal activity.
As horror fans have come to expect, the haunted house movie is generally littered with cheap jump scares, and while it’s not difficult to spot the audiovisual queues that lead to the payoffs, Demonic did catch me out a couple of times for an unexpected jolt. There are plenty of pulse-pounding shocks and an ominous sense of dread for the viewer as things don't go to plan with the kids, but audiences familiar with this sub-genre may find it a re-tread of what’s gone before.
Telling the story mostly in flashback allows the exposition to happen during the interview scenes, meaning that each sequence set during the paranormal rituals is ripe for dialing up the creep factor. But how much that creeps you out will be down to how much of this stuff you’ve seen before. Cutting back to the investigation neatly segues found-footage into the mix, which ticks all the boxes for first-person shots that see shadowy figures move from doorways, unseen entities appear on thermal imaging, demonic faces appear in the viewfinder and, of course, the obligatory night-vision shots.
It’s not that Demonic does anything particularly bad, it just doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Not being entirely found footage means not suffering migraine-inducing camerawork and shrieking lunatics for the duration, although there is a touch of that included for good measure. The cast across the board is pretty solid, although some of the decisions they make are questionable (opting to remain in the house after one girl is dragged down a corridor by an unseen force, for instance – yes, they got that one in there too).
A decent effort that will no doubt appeal to fans of this style, but really you have to wonder if bringing together so many elements of different ghost and possession stories into one film and still not ending up with a horror classic proves that this genre is done for the moment. Demonic will pass the time for 83 minutes, but it won’t possess you like it should.